Friday, February 3, 2012

Democracy Under Assault

The Austerity Gulag

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

Almost 70 years after the victory of democracy in Western Europe, and two decades after Eastern Europe loosed itself from the grip of Soviet totalitarianism, the people of the continent are threatened by another assault on self-government.

But no foreign army threatens their hard won rights or prosperity. The threat instead is the far smaller but equally menacing army of the global banking cartel — the parasites in pinstripes.

The prime ministers of both Italy and Greece are bankers, appointed not elected, and put in power by the threat of the cartel: that it will withhold credit and plunge those nations into social chaos unless they pay off existing credit — and plunge themselves into social chaos. These are debts the cartel encouraged and facilitated.

Understandably, Europeans are resisting because they know that if the debt — mostly the debt service (interest) — is paid in the manner being demanded by the cartel, their economies will be destroyed. There will simply be no tax revenue or asset income for the productive purposes that grow economies and sustain vital public services.

“Austerity” is the seemingly virtuous sounding word preferred by the cartel, technocrats, compliant politicians and much of the media to describe a policy that is in fact the impoverishment of the people and their subjugation by the cartel — the global less than 1 percent.

A general strike in Belgium, the first in 20 years and timed for a meeting of European finance ministers — a who’s who of Goldman Sachs alumni — tied up the capitol and major port earlier this week. It is just the beginning.

In one of history’s ironies, the conflict is coming to a head in Greece; the nation where school children are taught (or were taught) democracy was born.

To be sure, in ancient Greece democracy was more of a concept than the practice. Then as now political power flowed from wealth, and wealth in ancient Greece was expressed primarily in land, so the actual practice of democracy was limited to landowners who had the means to arm their families and workers to defend their city.

But the ancient commodity-based economies of land, and the gold, silver or precious jewels it produced — the foundation of the inherited wealth still enjoyed by European aristocracy — were inadequate to provide the expanding economic opportunity that the people of emerging democratic nations demanded as their right.

Short of the murder of the aristocracy and confiscation of their property and wealth — the French and Soviet model — the emerging democracies of the West found another way to let the common people in on the wealth.

Credit. In modern economies, credit replaced land and commodity-based currency as the key to creating prosperity and wealth, to satisfy the growing awareness of the common people of their “inalienable” rights.

With affordable and available credit, the common person has the opportunity to invest in his or her life and that of the family to create some prosperity and build some wealth.

But now credit and the wealth it generates is controlled in the United States and European democracies by the few, the Wall Street-led global banking cartel. Control of credit has become so absolute that a private banking monopoly — the issuers of credit — can topple governments it can’t otherwise buy or bully, and demand the extraction of what wealth remains among the common people — homes, savings, pensions, health care, police services, adequate diet, education and jobs.

The Guardian newspaper calls the impact on European youth “devastating.” In Greece, 43 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 24 are jobless; in Italy more than a quarter (28 percent). In Spain the figure is a shocking 51.4 percent.

And young Americans, who unlike their European counterparts are in many cases saddled with huge debt for their education, are not faring much better.

A truly lost generation, or as one reader of this column put it, the “Austerity Gulag,” consigned to an economic detention center from which they may never emerge.

Such is the control of credit today in the Western democracies that the U.S. Federal Reserve can dole our many trillions of dollars of almost no-cost credit to a handful of U.S. and foreign banks, and stand by shedding crocodile tears as Main Street — your street — disintegrates.

Is there a way to take back democracy short of the looming civil strife on both sides of the Atlantic? Yes. Take control of credit.

But don’t look for a bought Washington to lead that charge in the U.S. Look to the states, counties and cities for the restoration of credit as a public utility, and not a private monopoly, and an end to the serial abuses of Wall Street and Washington.

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